Ty Bell worked his last day as Cleveland Elementary’s principal on Wednesday.
Norman Public Schools officials and Bell would not comment Wednesday, but did provide The Transcript with Bell’s resignation letter.
Bell sent the letter detailing his plans to retire to Superintendent Nick Migliorino on Tuesday. He also announced his immediate retirement during the Cleveland Elementary Parent Teacher Association meeting Tuesday night.
He begins the letter stating that his 30 years working in education have been filled with joy and he has been honored to be the Cleveland Elementary principal for the past 14 years
He mentions in the letter that in the past month his niece was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery. And while visiting with his niece, his sister died unexpectedly.
“Those two events combined with my inability to attend my daughter’s activities due to my Cleveland commitments have had a cumulative effect, which caused me to reevaluate my decision to not submit my resignation last year,” Bell wrote.
He considered retiring last year, but decided to stay because he wanted to see the current fifth grade class graduate from Cleveland. He wrote he also wanted to make sure the school was prepared to move forward with new leadership.
Bell wrote that what while he was out of town “the current leadership has proven they are fully capable of keeping Cleveland in its spot as a successful and caring learning environment for our 600-plus students.”
Students who leave the school are more grounded in confident strength, and that comes from a strong leader, because of programs and exposure that Bell provided the students at Cleveland Elementary, Megan Sherrer, Cleveland Elementary PTA president, said.
Everyone is very sad to see him go, Sherrer said, but they wish him all the best in his future endeavors. Under Bell’s leadership she said it was a family-style environment and Bell was like a big teddy bear that led in caring for kids.
“I’ve had two graduate from Cleveland Elementary, and I will tell you that when they left Cleveland they were confident, they had school pride and I find that they are strong leaders and comfortable in who they are,” Sherrer said.
Craig Long, Cleveland Elementary PTA member, said Bell is a wonderful man who has always cared for his students and their educational success as well as continued success of Cleveland Elementary. Bell has been a champion and advocate for every student at Cleveland, Long added.
“From meeting with a small group of kids to study the civil rights movement after school to running with Cleveland’s Run Club in the Memorial Marathon, Mr. Bell is an incredible leader,” Long said. “He has shown amazing support, individualized care, leadership and personalized encouragement for every one of our children.”
Bell’s retirement comes a year after the Sept. 29, 2018 bus crash that injured several students, Bell and staff, just north Lampasas, Texas. The bus was carrying 27 Norman fifth graders and several adults on an annual field trip to SeaWorld in San Antonio when it crashed and rolled.
According to the report the Texas Department of Public Safety released last October, the bus was traveling south on U.S. Highway 281 north of Lampasas, when it hydroplaned, entered a ditch, rolled over completely once and crashed into a fence. The report states “faulty evasive action” as a contributing factor in the crash.
Bell has a commercial drivers license and was driving the bus. He was cited for “unsafe speed” in the crash report, but DPS officials said last October that does not mean Bell was speeding but rather was traveling at an unsafe speed considering the road conditions.
Some students and staff were taken to local hospitals.